'mAN ON THE MOON'
Our first non-comissioned piece, as funded by the 2016 UAL MEAD scholarship
Peckham, South London
A five day, hyperreal installation based on the mysterious life of the Armstrong family and their company, Armstrong Cheese. Set in their home on Copeland Road in South London.
The event was advertised as a ‘pop up cheese café and open house’ – an event designed to sell off Mr Armstrong’s remaining stock. There was cheese free to sample, and to take away with a 'pay what you can' policy.
When the audience arrived they found each room as an installation: a home deserted, full of clues to the Armstrong's life; an actor-less film set. Audiences could uncover a fairytale inside the family home through the objects and ephemera left behind, but ultimately imagined the world for themselves.
We wanted audiences to question how much of Armstrong Cheese was real. No one was told that it was a fairy tale built by two set designers. It was without conclusion. For some 139 Copeland Road is their home and his whereabouts still unknown.
Advertised in London's Time Out as one of the three essential things to do that week.
In November 2018 we were selected to present this project in Barcelona as one of ADC*E's chosen 'High Potentials' from across Europe.
"A brave and interesting thing.. I feel like there was some strange story."
"There's too many secrets for us to know."
“Armstong Cheese’... * googles * ‘is this real?
Can you look it up? They’ve got certificates of the
corporation but the look a bit funny. If its not real
these two are very good.”
Overheard and anonymous feedback
from the audience
Man on the Moon Theme
On arrival the audience found an actorless film set: every object had a place and a significance. Through self-initiated interaction with these the audience could discover the story. Every interaction taught the audience more about the Armstrongs, but they could also bring their own unique and personal experiences to the story: no two audience members interpretation was the same.
We wanted to create something that audiences could discover on their own terms, without the traditional awkwardness associated with interactive spaces. We spent over a year researching the psychology of interaction, and how best to make audiences feel immediately at ease on transitioning into the space. We needed social-norms of being in a strangers home to not apply. The audience needed to feel confident to look through personal belongings: to read anniversary cards, rifle through letters and pull objects out of drawers.
However, we needed to never break the hyperreality. We wanted our audience to constantly question how much of the fictional Armstrong Cheese brand (and family) was true. Maybe most wouldn't believe that the secret ingredient of Moon Cheese was the moon itself, but perhaps they could trust in the Armstrong brand.
We never broke the hyperreality: no one was ever told that the entire event was just a fairy tale dreamed up by two set designers. As a result, the story was infinite, there was no conclusion. For some people that house is still the once abandoned home of Mr Armstrong and family, infamous maker of the South London Moon Cheese. To this day his whereabouts are still unknown.
Read the full fairytale here.